Sitting right next to the Brugg’s main station, this concrete complex is a familiar sight to everyone who travels between Zurich and Basel by train. For most, it is just another brutalist monster dotting the midlands. But the shopping centre with direct access to the station, was once the centrepiece of a pioneering car-free master plan from the 1960s. Its implementation turned out to be less visionary. When the state-of-the-art Migros supermarket in the main building was finally inaugurated on 13 March 1975, the country was in the midst of an economic crisis. Its brutalist looks soon earned Neumarkt the nickname ‘bunker on stilts’.
Designed by Aargau architect Gabriel Droz, Neumarkt is divided into a long, flat rectangle with a shopping centre and multi-storey car park and a vertical section with two windmill-shaped office towers of different heights. A cantilevered window strip made of prefabricated concrete fins connects the two parts of the building in the terrace area. The smooth, streamlined tech façade of the towers, with its rounded corners, is a blatant nod to the economic centres of Zurich and Geneva, while the more robust shopping section, with its rough-hewn concrete facade, remains firmly rooted in the deep Swiss Mittelland.
Apart from a new aluminium cladding and general maintenance works, the bunker on stilts has so far escaped rejuvenation plans. And so the pioneer-turned-pensioner defiantly continues to wait for the next train.